To the Editor:
I read with interest the Beacon’s coverage of the recent fast food workers “one day strike.” The strike the first week of December was extensively covered by the Beacon with stories and commentary. There was special focus on the Wendy’s workers strike in Warwick. There, workers marched on the restaurant and demanded a “ living wage” of $15 an hour, to the chagrin of restaurant owners who promptly locked the doors.
While it is true that a corporation as wealthy as Wendy’s could afford to pay its line workers a dollar more an hour (and they should!), there is a much bigger question here. Why are adults of all ages working a job that is essentially made for teenagers? A fairly large percentage of the people who work at these fast food restaurants have high school diplomas, college degrees, training at technical schools, even advanced college degrees! Certainly these are not the requirements for such a low skill job as fast food work.
Could the answer to this question be the loud sucking sound we have heard over our heads for the last 30 years? That large sucking sound is all the jobs in this country being sucked out of here to other parts of the world. Fifty years ago, these same adults who work at Wendy’s now would have been able to walk off the street and get a living wage job at all the factories and associated industrial firms that used to dot our landscape.
I do not blame the corporate executives for this. Their job is to make products and deliver services the cheapest way possible. Nor do I blame Wall Street; they just supply the capital when an efficient corporation needs it. I blame our politicians over the last few decades that enabled all of this to happen. From Reagan to Obama, it has been the same mantra: Give corporations the freedom to run their business the way they see fit, even if it means shipping jobs overseas. We see the results of this strategy today. Trillions of dollars in debt, and adults working for the wages a kid used to make.